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April 11, 2021
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Locals in the NFL: With Pro Bowl nom in tow, Fred Warner not giving up on 49ers' season

AROUND THE SHIELD — Last year, Fred Warner was the talk of the Bay Area.

One of the best players on one of the best defenses in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers rising star linebacker was a key anchor on the NFC champions that were just one win away from their first Super Bowl title since 1995.

A year later, things are a bit different for the BYU product — but he’s still going strong as the league rounded the penultimate week of the 2020 regular season with four consecutive days of games.

Warner receiver his career-first Pro Bowl invitation this week, then went out and tied a career-high with 14 tackles, three pass breakups and a forced fumble in the 49ers’ stunning 20-12 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Buried at 6-9 and in last place in the NFC West with a 3-2 divisional record, San Francisco has given up on the playoffs in the season met with postponements, quarantines and COVID-19. But the 49ers haven’t given up on each other, and Warner is a big reason why.

“We’re out of the playoffs, but it’s still a division game. We’re all competitors,” Warner said after the win, more than anything else, curtailed the Cardinals’ chances at a wildcard berth. “I told the guys, ‘The best team for 60 minutes, it doesn’t matter what has gone on this entire season, the best team for 60 minutes was going to win the ball game.’ And I think, obviously, we were the better team.”

Warner wasn’t the only big-time player who showed up Saturday, nor was he the only former local college standout on the field in the NFL’s first-ever game broadcast exclusively on Amazon’s Prime Video. There was former BYU teammate Kai Nacua, who played primarily on special teams as he works into Robert Saleh’s defense, and Mitch Wishnowsky, the former Utah punter who also handled holder and kickoff duties for the Niners.

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But Warner has been the heartbeat of San Francisco’s defense all year, and perhaps more so in despair during a season where the 49ers lost six of their previous seven prior to Saturday’s win, when he had the second-highest graded on the team, according to Pro Football Focus. The only one higher was tackle Trent Williams, who is the league’s highest-graded offensive lineman through 16 weeks.

Warner’s been a pass rusher, a coverage mastermind, and has led the team in tackles on multiple occasions. And much like his inaugural Pro Bowl nod, he’s just getting started.

“I’m just trying to do whatever is asked of me. It’s just how the game goes,” Warner said. “I’m just trying to run to the ball, attack the football, and be a great communicator. I think if I do that, I’m running the show and do whatever I need to do.

“I think everybody played their best ball when we needed it. I’m very proud of the group, as a whole.”

Green Bay 40, Tennessee 14

AJ Dillon ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Davante Adams added 142 receiving yards and three scores on Sunday Night Football to keep the Pakcers on pace for the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Packers (12-3)

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU: Inactive for Week 16 (quad)

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: Inactive for Week 16

Titans (10-5)

No locals on the active roster

Seattle 20, LA Rams 9

Russell Wilson threw for 225 yards and a touchdown, and the Seahawks held the Rams out of the end zone to clinch the NFC West title.

Seahawks (11-4)

Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State: Starting middle linebacker made 6 tackles

Cody Barton, LB, Utah/Brighton: Made 1 tackle and forced a fumble on special teams as a reserve

Bryan Mone, DT, Highland: Made 2 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry as a reserve

Rams (9-6)

Matt Gay, K, Utah/Utah Valley/Orem: Made 3 field goals, including a 51-yarder, to account for the Rams’ scoring

Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay (1) kicks a field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle.

Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay (1) kicks a field goal against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (Photo: Scott Eklund, Associated Press)

LA Chargers 19, Denver 16

Justin Herbert threw his NFL-record 28th touchdown pass as a rookie as the Chargers held off the Broncos.

Chargers (6-9)

Michael Davis, CB, BYU: Starting cornerback had 9 tackles, 1 pass breakup

Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State/Fremont: Reserve linebacker made 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hurry

Sam Tevi, OT, Utah: Started at left tackle

Alohi Gilman, S, Orem: Reserve safety made 1 tackle on defense

Broncos (5-10)

Garett Bolles, OT, Utah/Snow/Westlake: Started at left tackle

Tim Patrick, WR, Utah: Starting receiver had 3 catches for 39 yards

Carolina 20, Washington 13

Teddy Bridgewater completed 19 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers built up a 20-0 first-half lead and held off the Football Team.

Panthers (5-10)

Tyler Larsen, OC, Utah State/Jordan: Played as a reserve

Football Team (6-9)

Jared Norris, LB, Utah: Played as a reserve

Alex Smith, QB, Utah: Inactive for Week 16 (calf)

Dallas 37, Philadelphia 17

Andy Dalton threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns as the Cowboys eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention.

Cowboys (6-9)

Dalton Schultz, TE, Bingham: Starting tight end caught 3 passes for 21 yards

Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah: Inactive for Week 16

Francis Bernard, LB, Utah/Herriman: Made 1 tackle on special teams as a reserve

Eagles (4-10-1)

No locals on the active roster

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) runs away from Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kemoko Turay (57) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) runs away from Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kemoko Turay (57) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (Photo: Don Wright, Associated Press)

Pittsburgh 28, Indianapolis 24

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns to help the Steelers rally by the Colts to snap a three-game losing streak and clinch the AFC North title.

Steelers (12-3)

No locals on the active roster

Colts (10-5)

Julian Blackmon, DB, Utah/Layton: Starting free safety made 2 tackles

NY Jets 23, Cleveland 16

Sam Darnold threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including a 30-yard strike to Jamison Crowder to cap a 20-3 run, as the Jets won consecutive games for the first time all season.

Jets (2-13)

Harvey Langi, LB, BYU/Bingham: Placed on injured reserve this week (neck)

Javelin Guidry, CB, Utah: Inactive for Week 16 (knee)

Browns (10-5)

Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU: Starting SAM linebacker made 7 tackles

Porter Gustin, DE, Salem Hills: Made 3 tackles on defense, 1 on special teams as a reserve

Cincinnati 37, Houston 31

Samaje Perine ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns to help the Bengals roll past the Texans.

Bengals (4-10-1)

Leshaun Sims, CB, SUU: Reserve cornerback made 5 tackles

Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, Timpview: Starting left tackle played most offensive snaps

Texans (4-11)

No locals on the active roster

Baltimore 27, NY Giants 13

Lamar Jackson totaled 263 total yards and threw for a pair of touchdowns in the Ravens’ win over the Giants.

Ravens (10-5)

Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah: Did not play after being elevated to the active roster for a second consecutive week

Giants (5-10)

Jackson Barton, OT, Utah/Brighton: Inactive for Week 16

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Chicago 41, Jacksonville 17

David Montgomery had 95 yards and a touchdown, and the Bears out-rushed the Jaguars 128-76 as Jacksonville clinched the No. 1 pick in next April’s NFL Draft.

Bears (8-7)

Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah: Inactive for Week 16 (shoulder)

Patrick Scales, LS, Utah State/Weber: Played 10 snaps at long snapper

Jaguars (1-14)

No locals on the active roster

Kansas City 17, Atlanta 14

Patrick Mahomes hit Demarcus Robinson with a 25-yard TD strike with 1:55 left, and the Chiefs survived to hold off the Falcons and clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Chiefs (14-1)

Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU: Starting safety made 7 tackles in the Chiefs’ win

Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State: Played sparingly in return from illness

Falcons (4-11)

No locals on the active roster

Friday

New Orleans 52, Minnesota 33

Alvin Kamara ran for 155 yards and tied a league record with six touchdowns to help the Saints clinch the NFC South title with a win over the Vikings.

Saints (11-4)

Taysom Hill, QB, BYU: Ran for 18 yards, 1 TD; completed 2 passes for 8 yards; caught 19-yard pass

Marcus Williams, S, Utah: Inactive for Week 16 (ankle)

Kaden Elliss, LB, Judge Memorial: Inactive for Week 16

Vikings (6-9)

No locals on the active roster

Saturday

San Francisco 20, Arizona 12

Third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard’s 182 passing yards and three touchdowns were enough to help the Niners top the Cardinals.

49ers (6-9)

Fred Warner, LB, BYU: Starting linebacker had team-high 14 tackles, 3 pass breakups 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah: Starting punter averaged 39.0 yards per punt, with a long of 50 and 2 punts downed inside 20; also took 4 kickoffs

Kai Nacua, S, BYU: Reserve safety played 12 snaps on special teams, 2 on defense

Cardinals (8-7)

Kylie Fitts, LB, Utah: Reserve linebacker played 8 defensive snaps, 9 on special teams

Leki Fotu, DL, Utah/Herriman: Reserve defensive tackle made 1 tackle, 1 quarterback hurry on 24 defensive snaps

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) celebrates his interception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) celebrates his interception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press)

Tampa Bay 47, Detroit 7

“Tampa Tom” Brady threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns to help the Buccaneers clinch their first postseason bid since 2007 with a rout of the Lions.

Buccaneers (10-5)

No locals on the active roster

Lions (5-10)

Miles Killebrew, S, SUU: Reserve safety made 1 tackle on 29 special-teams snaps

John Penisini, DL, Utah/Snow/West Jordan: Starting defensive tackle made 4 tackles on 56 snaps

Miami 26, Las Vegas 25

Jason Sanders booted a 44-yard field goal with one second to help the Dolphins stun the Raiders.

Dolphins (10-5)

Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU: Starting linebacker played all 64 defensive snaps with 6 tackles

Eric Rowe, DB, Utah: Starting safety played all 64 defensive snaps with 8 tackles

Raiders (7-8)

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah: Reserve running back totaled 11 yards on 6 carries, 2 catches for 8 yards

Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State: Reserve cornerback made 3 tackles on 24 defensive snaps

Dallin Leavitt, S, Utah State: Reserve safety made 3 tackles, 1 pass breakup on 40 defensive snaps; added 1 tackle on 29 special-teams snaps

Andre James, OT, Herriman: Reserve center played 6 snaps on special teams

Photos

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